Minister confirms date for coastguard closure
THE planned closure of Swansea coastguard station has finally been confirmed by the Westminster Government.
The coastguard station is one of nine UK maritime and rescue co-ordination centres earmarked for closure, out of a total of 19, despite being Wales's busiest, dealing with around 1,300 incidents during 2012.
Last month, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency announced its long-awaited timetable for the closures, which were this week confirmed by the Government's maritime minister, Stephen Hammond MP. It will shut in 2014/15, as part of the final wave of closures, along with Liverpool and Thames.
The confirmation came after a Parliamentary debate by the transport select committee's critical report on coastguard, emergency towing vessels and the maritime incident response group, which followed long-running concerns about the implementation of the Government's coastguard changes.
Mike Dubens, of the Save Swansea Coastguard campaign, said: "It remains a shame that the MCA and Department for Transport have not listened to the voices of the petition from South Wales and South West England, which was around 117,000 names, as well as the local authorities throughout the areas.
"When the new system is implemented, we will find out whether our fears have been justified. I hope it copes, and that we are not looking back at future fatalities in our waters."
Among those taking part in the debate in Westminster was Labour's shadow maritime minister Gordon Marsden.
He added: "People living in coastal communities like Swansea are deeply concerned about the Government's decision to close some coastguard services. Local knowledge which is crucial for safety at sea risks being lost for good as centres close.
"The Government needs to urgently reassure people that its plans won't leave our coastline a more dangerous place."